Monster's BallReview by Dave Smith
Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry are getting to be very good actors. I didn't think much of Billy Bob in "Sling Blade" but he has now become an accomplished and somewhat versatile actor. Halle Berry was always good but like a lot of great looking actors, her looks interfere with her acting. I liked Peter Boyle the first time I saw him in what has to be the most hilarious horror movie of all time, "Young Frankenstein." The plot of "Monster's Ball" is so obviously contrived, it's easy to guess almost every plot turn. Alfred Hitchcock loved coincidences but he had a way of working them into the plot that made them look almost logical. But here...how can we believe that of all the people in town, Billy Bob meets up with the widow of the man he electrocuted? How does it happen? Coincidentally he comes along a highway right after her son was hit by a car. There are other such coincidences but we won't waste time enumerating them. Berry is good in her part and probably deserves an oscar nomination. But in my opinion, she is miscast. She is too elegantly beautiful for the part. Not only that, even though she is poverty-stricken, she dresses in a style that is too fashionable for her circumstances. Additionally are we to believe that this breath-takingly beautiful woman has no other love interest? No other man in town makes a play for her? She is lonely and desperate and no one except Billy Bob steps forward to help her?
We must give the writers credit for trying to show how a died-in-the-wool racist is dramatically changed overnight. Here is a man who in effect killed his own son because he wasn't racist enough but now is suddenly transformed by the love of a black woman. It strains the borders of belief. But as we all know, love can do wondrous things. Perhaps such a thing could happen.
"Monster's Ball" on the surface appears to be a better film than it really is. It certainly isn't boring...with one exception. The producers apparently get their kicks out of elongated, graphic sex scenes. They are easy to do...no writing is required. But why? What is the purpose of a sex scene that goes on and on and on? I suppose some people may say this is the best thing about this movie, but others will surely want the groaning and the writhing to end so we can get on with the rest of the movie.